For a couple of years, we have been using a particular form of communication session between 2 or 3 people which we designate as a ‘privileged mode’ session. Living in close proximity brings up issues. While living in a community is less likely to bring up issues than is the case with couples, they are more likely to arise in community than they are in the arms-length life-style of main-stream society. Privileged Mode is a practice for resolving issues. We encourage Members and friends to become familiar with the process.
How we Use Privileged Mode at LEV:
To help people over the awkward process of proposing a Privileged Mode discussion, it might be a good practice at house, and other community meetings to ask if anyone has any issues. With such encouragement, individuals could recognize the need to discuss something and could then arrange to have those discussions at a time that is convenient for those involved. – A coach can be helpful to nurture the safety of the process and in making sure that the individuals involved are hearing what each other is saying. – Some issues may be of relevance to the community and could be discussed with everyone’s participation. – A suggestion box or note sheet maybe a good institution for raising issues of common interest and relevance. – All are encouraged to make use of it early on when something comes up.
When a dicey circumstance arises, an opportunity to discuss the conflicting experience is requested. When one agrees to share in privileged mode, there is an understanding that emotions happen and that it is best to share around them so as to remove the “fuse” that could lead to a destructive explosion. With the scene set for an honest sharing, the ensuing discussion often reveals misunderstandings that are resolved when identified. If the cause of the issue is deeper, an awareness of the sore points and an understanding that one’s response is not intended to drive a wedge into the relationship helps a lot. The issue may have arisen as a call to be sensitive to boundaries that may themselves be the product of something largely unrelated. What happens in a session: Privilege Mode aims to provide a safe opportunity for talking about things people do or say that cause hard feelings. The opportunity is safe because the intent is understood to be the resolution of the feelings that have been aroused. While the things that need to be said can be upsetting, participants are committed to hearing them and sharing their reactions in a spirit of friendship and with the wish to resolve the tension. The person who requested the Privilege Mode session starts by explaining what s/he has been feeling. The listener then re- expresses the ‘problem statement’, to make sure the message was received accurately. We do not always hear words as they are intended, particularly when emotions and reactions are involved. When the first person is satisfied that they have been heard, the second person then communicates their reaction and the first re-expresses what they heard, to make sure that the response is also understood accurately. When both speaker and listener feel they understand each other, further reactions tend to disappear and with them the problem often ceases to exist.
A couple of extra points about privileged mode
1) It’s hard work – but it is worth it!
2) It’s best to practice it regularly. Sometimes there’s not much to say, but then again sometimes it just takes a little bit of time to bring issues back to the surface. It’s important to try and get to such feelings – it is usually better to deal with them early than risk having them grow in volatility.
3) The term privileged can mean also ‘protected’. We enter into a protected conversation where we feel safe to be understood and to understand.